Wichita, Kans.-based Great Plains Transportation Museum is holding a fundraiser for a full cosmetic restoration of Santa Fe Railway diesel-electric locomotive No. 93, which was built by the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors Corporation in late 1967 and donated by BNSF in June 1999. The face of the restoration effort is Michael Gross, a Santa Fe Railway enthusiast and an actor from Family Ties (1982-1989) and the Tremors science-fiction movie franchise.
No. 93 pulled Santa Fe passenger trains between Chicago and California or Texas from 1967 to 1971 and freight trains for Santa Fe and successor BNSF from 1971 to 1998, according to the museum, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It will be restored in the red and silver Santa Fe Super Fleet scheme it has worn since 1989, when then railroad President Michael R. Haverty approved an updated version of the well-known and historic scheme used on passenger train locomotives from 1937 to 1971, the museum reported.
“We recently met with a representative of Mid-America Car of Kansas City, Mo., which resulted in an estimate to professionally complete a top-quality cosmetic restoration,” Great Plains Transportation Museum President John Deck said. “We were encouraged by the results of that meeting.”
The fundraising goal of $193,000 is slated to cover the mechanical work required to move the locomotive roundtrip from Wichita to Kansas City; transportation costs; restoration work; and visitor access staircases for display once the locomotive returns to Wichita. Watco’s Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad is donating the mechanical inspection to identify any required work to ensure the locomotive’s safe transit to and from Kansas City.
The museum aims to have the funding in hand by mid-2024, with restoration work beginning later in the year, according to Deck.
“Bringing back the historic, world-renowned red and silver passenger locomotive ‘Warbonnet’ paint scheme in a modernized freight version was intended to improve employee morale and boldly declare to our intermodal customers that Santa Fe was the top intermodal carrier in the United States,” said Michael R. Haverty, who served as Santa Fe Railway President from mid-1989 to mid-1991. “We designated the locomotives as the ‘Super Fleet’ to acknowledge recognition of the former world-class Super Chief passenger train and assigned them to primarily handle high-speed intermodal trains on the transcontinental main line between Chicago and the West Coast. Santa Fe Railway received amazing attention when the first Super Fleet freight locomotive emerged from our San Bernardino [Calif.] shops just prior to Independence Day in 1989. The company’s image also got a huge boost when the Super Fleet locomotives garnered worldwide coverage. Reviving the historic red and silver Warbonnet paint scheme was a game changer for our railroad.”
“I am delighted to be involved with the restoration of such an iconic Santa Fe locomotive,” Michael Gross said. “My paternal grandfather, Chester Gross, worked at Santa Fe’s Fort Madison, Iowa, car and locomotive shops his entire career. Many children grew up running Lionel trains adorned with Santa Fe’s familiar red and silver livery circling Christmas trees in the 1950s and 1960s. Hence, my interest in this project to restore locomotive 93 to its proud Santa Fe heritage is very high, and personal.”